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UFC maintains credit rating during pandemic, but parent company downgraded to ‘substantial risk’

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UFC 202 Weigh-ins Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Nearly every major industry is experiencing financial woes as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, but the UFC’s parent company has been especially hard hit by the crisis.

Endeavor — who owns a majority share in the UFC — has taken significant losses due to the global pandemic and now its overall credit rating has been lowered as a result.

On Monday, S&P Global downgraded Endeavor’s credit rating from B (highly speculative) to CCC+, which is considered a “substantial risk.”

Endeavor had been adding new businesses to their portfolio while adding a lot of debt including the $4 billion purchase of the UFC back in 2016. Unfortunately the ongoing pandemic has virtually wiped out all of their revenue streams with Endeavor’s talent agency and live events business ravaged over the past few weeks.

As a result, Endeavor has received a downgraded credit rating, which also means their outlook has been shifted to “negative.”

“Endeavor entered 2020 with a highly leveraged capital structure, therefore the anticipated significant drop in revenue in 2020 could potentially result in an unsustainable capital structure,” S&P analysts wrote via The Wrap.

“Even when production restarts, which we currently assume would be in the next few months, it might not be sufficient to offset the impact from cancelled or postponed events. In addition, the recessions currently underway in the U.S. and Europe are likely to put additional pressure on Endeavor’s revenue model, which partly relies on corporate sponsorships, advertising spending, and consumption.”

Endeavor already laid off a number of employees and issued company wide pay cuts as a result of the ongoing pandemic.

While Endeavor has been downgraded, the UFC has maintained their same credit rating despite facing similar issues with all of their live events cancelled over the past few weeks.

The UFC hoped to get back up and running with UFC 249 on April 18, but the plug was pulled on that show just days ago after the company’s broadcast partners at ESPN asked the company to “stand down” and not move forward with the scheduled event.

Still, S&P Global maintained the UFC’s ‘B’ credit rating overall while remaining on “CreditWatch” with negative implications. Unlike Endeavor, the UFC has resisted pay cuts or layoffs with UFC president Dana White promising that none of his employees would lose their jobs as a result of the pandemic.